09/18/2008, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Saudi radio program that suggested killing "immoral broadcasters" taken off the air

It is the same program on which, a few days ago, the fatwa was issued against "immoral broadcasters". It is not clear whether the suspension is the result of the controversy that erupted after the broadcast. No official statement from the communication ministry. The judge who made the statement is speaking out to stem the controversy, saying that he was "misunderstood".

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The fatwa against "immoral" programs and the managers who broadcast them has backfired against the radio program on which it was made. The Saudi broadcaster Holy Quran Radio has suspended the program Light in the Path, which illuminated the lives of millions of Muslims. The 30-minute news broadcast included commentary from the leading experts and teachers of Islam, who pronounced judgments, gave opinions, and supplied advice to listeners who were able to ask their questions live on the air.

Almost all of the Muslim religious leaders participated in the broadcasts, including the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Al Shaikh. The decision to suspend the broadcasts follows the controversy that erupted throughout the entire Arab world, over the statements made by Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan, the most authoritative judge on the Saudi court. Responding to the question from a listener, he issued a fatwa according to which certain "diabolical" entertainment programs can foster "depravity" and "vice" among viewers, and it is permissible to kill the "owners and managers" of the channels if they do not "stop these broadcasts".

According to the website Islam Today, in addition to the program at fault, the broadcast of the pro-Islamic program Fahd Al Sunaidi has also been suspended. The culture and information ministry denies any involvement in shutting down the programs, and says that it has "no official position" on the matter.

Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan had tried to calm the controversy himself: he clarified that he had been "misunderstood", and his words had been used outside of their "proper context". "What I said", the website Gulf News quotes him as saying, "about the killing of the owners of these channels is that it is permissible for the authorities to kill them in accordance with a judicial ruling if they do not stop such evil transmissions".

The "fatwa" issued by the judge on the Saudi court had unleashed strong and concerned reactions from broadcasters in the Arab world, subject to being killed for broadcasting programs believed to be immoral. Some defended themselves by saying they have never broadcast soap operas, provocative programs, or topics that clash with Islamic religion and morality. Moreover, the producers and creators of these programs are aware of the censorship they face, and they avoid offensive language and content in the process.

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